AS THE WORLD CELEBRATES MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR DAY WE REMEMBER HIS ACHIEVEMENTS AND THE PRICE HE AND SO MANY OTHERS PAID TO REMIND US THAT WE ARE ALL CREATED EQUAL.
Nathan Phillips a Native American elder is a well known activist for their causes. While singing a protest song and beating his drum at a Lincoln Memorial gathering he found himself on the fringe of an altercation between white and black youths. As he tried to pass by he became surrounded by the white youths, many wearing the signature Donald Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, who taunted and mocked him. One young man blocked his way in a confrontational manner and tried to stare him down but he kept singing and drumming. Phillips has described focussing upon the reason for his protest and remembering his wife who died of cancer four years ago. A video recording of the event has gone viral, drawing outrage and forcing an apology from the Catholic Diocese of the school the youths attend. Ironically the students of Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School were taking part in an anti abortion rally but showed little ‘respect for life’ towards Mr Phillips.
We can only applaud his grace and non judgemental response. Disrespect is borne of ignorance but also from the self righteous attitude which too often prevails in a nation which has much to be thankful for and much to apologise for. Education is the answer. Any punitive response the diocese might choose to impose will be meaningless without a change of consciousness. Nathan Phillips clearly has a deep understanding of conflict and the factors which trigger violence. Who better than native American elders to offer an opportunity to pass on their wisdom by inviting the youths who took part in such a shameful, mindless exhibition to attend a traditional gathering to learn something of what America appears to have forgotten.
A timely moment to consider the traditional beliefs of the 1st Americans.